I'm wondering if this part of the Farewell Address might not have some
look and feel of a Passover Haggadah.
I note the following very preliminary points of comparison:
1. Many see John's Last Supper as an ordinary meal, not a Passover
Seder. However, "Passover" is very obviously "in the air" (13:1 - πρὸ δὲ
τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα), John 13 sets itself in an evening meal, and Jesus
carries on an expository conversation with his disciples - all common
elements with a Passover observance.
2. Jesus addresses his disciples as "little children" (τεκνία) in 13:33,
at the beginning of this selection. The Passover meal and accompanying
ritual that grew up around it was traditionally presided over by the
father of the household. Jesus here assumes something of that role.
3. Still in the same vein, Jesus says later in 14:18 "I will not leave
you (as) orphans" (οὐκ ἀφήσω ὑμᾶς ὀρφανούς), maintaining his role as
father in this conversation.
4. Four named disciples ask Jesus (a) questions(s), one at a time
followed by Jesus' answer to each of the four, in narrative order:
a. Simon Peter, 13:36-38
b. Thomas, 14:5-7
c. Philip, 14:8-11
d. Judas (not Iscariot), 14:22-24
Here is more definite "look and feel". The structuring of 13:36-14:24
around the questions of four disciples seems parallel to the "Four Sons"
segment of the Haggadah. The Four Sons comes right after the "Four
Questions", but the sons actually ask four other questions, each based
on the questioner's moral and/or intellectual state. The four are
usually described as "wise" (חכם), "wicked" (רשׁע), "simple" (תם), and
one "who does not know how to ask" (shorthand as "ask", שׁאול). Some
surviving textual tradition uses "stupid" rather than "simple" (טיפשׁ)
for the third son - see Fred Francis, Baraita on the Four Sons, JAAR,
The Francis article also addresses the much-debated question of when the
Haggadah originated - some of it possibly before 200 BCE, but the "Four
Sons" maybe not so early. But from what I've read, prior to late first
century CE is very likely.
Does anyone know of any prior study on this question of Haggadah
elements in John 13-14 that you could refer me to??
Research Fellow UMass Amherst